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tv   Sanjay Gupta MD  CNN  December 15, 2012 1:30pm-2:00pm PST

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collect a semiautomatic rifle? i mean, his mother has been described by some as a collector. why would someone have that kind of a gun? i mean, the thing is massive looking. >> the bushmaster, actually, is one used by the beltway snipers. but it is -- it's considered a sporting weapon. some people say it looks like an assault weapon, looks like a military weapon. but it has characteristics that make it suitable for sporting purposes. therefore, it was never banned under the old assault weapon ban, nor is it banned by the connecticut assault weapon ban. but as far as why somebody would want one of these, a lot of people just because they can have one. some people think it's sexy to have one of these things. some people feel it's for self protection. but it's within the law to have one so people feel they can do that. >> mike bushard with us this
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evening. deb feyerick has other stories making news this evening. deb? >> doctors are monitoring secretary of state hillary clinton for a concussion. she hit her head after she fainted. her office says clinton was dehydrated from a stomach virus. she is resting comfortably at home. she'll work at home next week following her doctor's recommendations. clinton will not testify as had been scheduled thursday about the deadly attack in benghazi, libya. in south africa, former president nelson mandela is recovering from surgery to have gallstones removed. mr. mandela has been in the hospital since last weekend due to a recurring lung infection. officials say the operation today was a success. in egypt, president mohamed morsi cast his ballot today for a new draft constitution. voters there deciding whether the controversial document will go into effect. the days leading up to today's vote have been marred by many protests and violence. back to you, soledad.
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we know that there was a report that a relative of the shooter said that he suffered -- the shooter suffered some, quote, kind of autism. we want to get to dr. mac wh whiznitser, an autism expert at a hospital in cleveland. and he provided some more clarification for us on this. thanks for being with us. i appreciate it. i think this brings us into a conversation about mental illness and about something else which i guess is developmental, which is autism. my nephew is autistic, so i know a little bit about this. there are many people who would say, well, what is a kind of autism -- which is quoting the gentleman who apparently told investigators that about the shooter. what do you think he's talking about? >> well, if you look at the
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classic definition of autism or autism spectrum disorder, it's a developmental problem, which means you're born with a tendency, but it may show itself in the first few years of life. it's a developmental prong that affects your socialization, affects how you can communicate or interact with other people and has associated with it some repetitive behaviors or major areas of fascination or interest. more recently, people have actually taken this terminology and expanded the concept of autism spectrum disorder to really suggest problems with social skills or social behavior in general. sometimes without really digging down deep and asking what's driving them. and i think in these situations, when someone makes that kind of a statement, we have to ask are they talking about someone who has really been analyzed and evaluated carefully with a clearcut diagnosis or just a label being put on because it's a label of convenience? >> sanjay earlier was telling me there is no correlation that he no, sir of any studies he's looked at that would indicate that people who are autistic,
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who have autism, might be connected with any kind of violence. and that mental illness is a completely different category. and i think sometimes, frankly, people use them under the same category, as you say, kind of glom them under the same title. we don't know much about the shooter. they still have not officially identified him here in newtown, connecticut. but i guess i'm trying to understand. is there -- does he have a mental illness, and is this something that could be -- people could know about and not -- and he could have been struggling to get treatment? >> let's first get to your first point, which is in autism, between 25 and 50% of individuals can have aggressive or violent behaviors. but in those situations, it's almost always reactive. either something hurts them or they do something impulsively or
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because they get upset about something or anxious or moods are not right. it's reactive, on the time at that spot. but we're talking about a situation here where something was preplanned. was deliberately thought out. drove a distance to do it. and basically targeted individuals who were clearly nowhere involved with anything that's going on. that's a different type of aggression. that's not reactive aggression. that's more like preplanned aggression that's present. that's what we may see in individuals with mental illness. and in individuals with mental illness, you don't find the features of it for the first time on the day they do such a heinous action such as this. such a bad action such as this. they're symptomatic for a long period of time beforehand when things are brewing. we have to ask what made him basically go over the edge and i think as you have asked rightly, could something have been done before happened? for all we know he may have been under some care but things may have changed in this time period. we need more information. >> doctor, i think you're right. we do need more information on a lot of fronts. very little, as i pointed out,
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is known about the shooter at this point. law enforcement is not even identifying him yet. they say they wait for the postmortem to do that officially. but we're beginning to get a little bit of information about him. and so we're bringing it to you as we get it. we'll take a short break. and when he come back, we'll continue to bring the latest on this terrible, horrific shooting that happened at a elementary school in newtown, connecticut. we're back in just a moment. stay with us. ♪
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one thing that is very clear is that this is a very hard story to wrap our heads around. why would someone shoot up an elementary school? and imagine what the parents had to be going through when they got a robocall, telling them there was a shooting and lockdown at their kids' school. earlier this morning, i talked to the parents of two children who were in that school. those two children lost their principal and some of their close friends are dead. here's what they told me. >> when i saw those teachers, when i found the two children and we are devastated and
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heartbroken for the poor families who did not have that moment in the firehouse of finding their children, and we can't even imagine. our prayers. the entire community is heartbroken. but when i saw those teachers and i locked eyes with each of them separately, when i found the two children, if i could go back, i would -- i would embrace them. because i had no idea what they had gone through. but it was actually handled very well, because i can't imagine the pandemonium that would have been going on in that firehouse, from the parents searching for their children. if anybody there had any idea the level of what had happened yesterday, people just simply didn't know really what was going on. they just knew that their children had been in a dangerous place, and that those that made it to the firehouse were, thank god, safe. >> what are you tell your son, who is a first grader?
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what will you tell your daughter who is a third grader? do they have i didn't any idea of how scope of how bad it is? >> i think they do. we haven't really let on. we haven't said much. this is shocking, so this is new to us. and we're definitely going to talk to counselors today over at the reed school. we're going to live at our church at saint rose, and we're just going to learn what to say before we say it. it's really tricky. and for my third grader, little bits and pieces are coming out now. >> she's handling it a little -- it sounds like she is not talking as much about it. >> no. little things are coming out now, where she -- she heard a lot. they all heard and saw things that our children should not hear or see. and so we just -- they know that it was a bad man. and we said we're just coming to talk to people. they want to know what happened over at sandy hook. they don't know -- they don't know that they've lost their
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friends and their principal. >> it's become apparent that our 6-year-old has lost close friends. and he's very unaware of that right now. we don't know how to exactly approach it with him at this point. the we're just kind of guarding them from the tv. when they fell asleep last night, and -- and the experts would come on the tv to discuss how you talk to your children, we were very attentive. like, oh, let's listen, or let's watch this. and we realized watching it, it had nothing to do with us. it had everything to do with the rest of the country watching it. but not the people that were involved and the children that were actually in the school. so it's important for us to -- we realize, as this goes on, it's important for us to take advantage of the counseling. >> many people have sent messages to me to tell people like you and the people who have
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lost their children just sorry they feel for them. >> yeah, i mean, your heart -- this is a feeling -- it is unspeakable. it is like reaching into your insides and pulling them out. i mean, when things happen to your children, and to other people -- i mean, i can't look at my children's faces now without seeing the faces of every one of their school mates. and all of their friends. and everything that they're doing right now or saying or talking about christmas and just thinking -- their friends should all be here. and it's just -- it is such -- it is so heavy. so heavy on your heart. and -- >> the nation feels that way too. >> yeah. the outpouring of love has been tremendous. i mean, people are calling from all over the world. and we're going to need that now. we're going to absolutely need that to be there as a community. we love sandy hook. i mean, this is such a great place. and the people are wonderful. and we're just going to have to
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really embrace each other and open our hearts and open our arms and open those church doors and just get everybody praying and together. because i mean, i think this is something we will get through. i don't think this is something we will ever, ever get over. >> i would like -- i would like also to say that we always felt blessed that our children were at sandy hook school. it was an absolutely beautiful school, fantastic educators. the principal who, god bless her, lost her life, was just -- a very special person. and all the parents knew that. so it's a very -- it's shocking beyond belief that this has happened. and it's -- i mean, we're just grief-stricken, heartbroken for those families. >> the phelps family, with two
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children, a first grader and a third grader. grappling now with how to deal with this aftermath and feeling so lucky at the same time. their children were among the survivors of this horrific, horrific shooting. we're going to have more to talk about as we continue. those children were at the school at the time of the shooting, certainly have a lot to talk about and questions they're going to want to ask and answer as they would like to get answered. let's get to doctor jeff gardere. he has been talking a lot about what answers parents need to be giving their children. he's a clinical psychologist. so, jeff, i did that interview with the -- those parents a little bit earlier today. and they were struggling. they literally did not know the words to use to be able to tell their first grade son that some of his classmates and his good friends had been killed. how do people who are in the situation handle this? how do those of us who are
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outside of it and have children that are dealing with it handle it as well? >> well, i heard what they said, and it was very poignant. they had listened to the experts such as myself giving advice. if you have children who have heard about this, how to speak with them. this is a very special population. they're the ones that are at the ground zero who have been traumatized. and i would tell those parents, and this is specifically for you there in connecticut, as part of sandy hook. the most important thing is let your children know that you, as the parents, have been very hurt by this. and that you want to cry, and it's okay to cry. and it's okay to grieve. but most important, they, as the parents, soledad, have to provide the stability of just being there with their children, hugging them, holding them, letting them know that they are safe right now, and just listening to whatever it is that those children want to say.
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and just being that ear more than anything else. >> is it your expectation that everyone in this community or -- will have ptsd? or will it just be those that had children in the school system? can people who didn't experience it but are experiencing it from a distance also get ptsd? >> well, i would say that the people who are part of the school, part of that community, they're looking at the statistics. you've heard it from dr. sanjay gupta. there's almost a 70% probability that they will have some sort of ptsd. it will last for months, if not years. however, the important thing is the mobile crisis units are there. trained police officers, social workers are there. so the quicker you address the issues and let them speak about this, the better the prognosis in the future. for those parents who are dealing with their kids, who are outside of that community, the most important thing is that you
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listen to what it is that they know. ask them what they know. ask them what they want to discuss. and it's not one conversation, soledad. it's a series of conversations while you're doing things that they enjoy. just be there and listen to what it is that they have to say, and let them know that they will be safe in their schools. there are no guarantees, but empower them with the knowledge they can be strong and they can sympathize and empathize with those children that have lost their lives. but as for them and their families, we are there for them. the stability is there. >> dr. jeff gardere. jeff, thank you so much for the information, the advice. we appreciate it. and we're learning some new details about the suspected shooter's mother, nancy lanza. we are told that she liked to garden, she played a dice game called bunko with her girlfriends. a neighbor said the lanzas looked like a nice and normal family. police say, though, that nancy's son, the shooter, killed her in
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her newton home before he went on to the elementary school. and cnn's david ariesto joins me now. you had an opportunity to go to the neighborhood where not only is it center of an investigation. there are many neighbors who have told you about the family, as well. what are they telling you? >> you speak to neighbors, it paints a picture of this afluent community that is in southwestern connecticut. and it's -- this woman who often would be with her boys, they moved to the area in 1998. the -- she divorced with her husband years later. but they would often attend these parties, these dice games in which they were gardening in the back and talk about landscaping. the common joke that one of the neighbors mentioned, you're doing all this landscaping behind the house, nobody is going to see this. but it was this idea that this woman was a -- a pleasant, pleasurable person to be around. she was someone who was involved in the community. and you talk to residents here, and it's really -- this sense of
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this tight knit community. we talk to other people earlier in the day, and many people say that people move to this area because of the school system. so to have something like this take place at a school, particularly in an elementary school, has just rocked this community. >> there are so many people who ask the question why. were neighbors able to tell you anything about the boys in the familiar lyrics , specifically the young man who would go on to be the shooter. >> one of the things they mentioned, they didn't see the boys. they moved there in 1998 and lived there really up until this week. the father divorced years later. but the boys were not individuals they saw very often. and this picture that you also get is that you have this one individual who is gardening and playing cards and playing dice. and at the same time, you have what appears to be several guns within this house, some of those guns being high-powered weapons. so it's this conflicting account. and one of the neighbors probably said it best. there's something missing here. >> it's interesting.
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it appears, right, she would be a collector, some of the people we have spoken to, when you look at the caliber of the guns and the range, the kinds of weapons she had, she would be a collector. did the neighbors talk about her passion for collecting weapons at all? did they know about it? >> you know, i asked that question specifically and categorically, each neighbor i talked to said no. so it's -- you know, it paints a bit of a confusing picture when you have these type of weapons that apparently were hers. and were used in this terrible tragedy. >> crazy. so there was a question about early on when this story broke, there was word she was a teacher in the school. and we now know that was not the case. she was not a teacher in the school, but that she might have some affiliation with the school. what have you been able to learn on that front? >> you know, when she divorced -- there was speculation within the community that she might have used her maiden name and may have done some substitute teaching. that was pretty much batted down by most of the school authorities we talked to and others. so it was really unclear what she was doing.
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she certainly had taken some time off after working in finance. and she had essentially got very much into gardening. very much into landscaping. what her connection was with the school, if any, is unclear. >> it is such -- so many questions to be asked. we've heard so much contradictory information throughout -- really, it's been what, 30-plus hours now that we've been covering this story. and there's so many questions and so few answers about the shooter, his family. any motivation. you know, i guess as law enforcement says, they will release more information about him as soon as they're done with that most more item, which will be tomorrow morning. david, thank you so much for the report. no doubt, though, here today so many people are overwhelmed with so much pain. just to talk to people in the streets who have come to the makeshift memorials where they're laying flowers or lighting vote active candles, missing the loved ones, people they know they have lost, trying to understand what's happened. trying to make sense of something like this probably is
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impossible. >> this is a very, very tragic, tragic scene for everybody. certainly our hearts are broken for the families here. >> well, about 9:30, 9:40, we heard noises and the announcement system was still on so -- it didn't go off, so you hear what sounded like pops, gunshots. >> you heard a teacher managed to take two children out of the hallway, pull them into the classroom, lock the door, and move everybody over to the other side of the room. >> we just told a little boy about his sister now, just as -- who am i going to play with, he said. i have nobody to play with, he said. >> when your first grader goes to bed and says "mommy, is
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anyone from my class last year, are they okay? are they all okay?" and you look at them and say i'm not really sure. >> you can never be prepared for this kind of incident. what has happened, what has transpired at that school building will leave a mark on this community, and every family impacted. >> we are on the verge of wrapping up our coverage right now, but we're going to continue, obviously, cnn's coverage of this tragedy in newtown, connecticut. deb feyerick, there are so many questions yet to be answered. we'll know more tomorrow, certainly, when law enforcement tells us and the medical examiner's office tells us. that they will finish the
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postmortems that will be done on the shooter and his mother. and that will bring an end to the -- i guess the investigation into the bodies, at least, at the crime scene. >> sure. and the thing is also, people are saying, well, what was the motive, what is the motive? what would drive somebody like this to kill his own mother? and then to open fire on a school filled with innocent children. the answer, it's almost irrelevant. the fact that it happened is what's so devastating to so many people. and even the town saying, in the nicest way possible, let us be, let us heal. i think everybody wants to heal. if that's even possible, soledad. >> you know, there's no question about that. i don't know that they'll ever know really why. you know, people have told us -- they might know the how. they might eventually be able to understand with law enforcement laying out the -- how it happened. but they may never actually understand the why. deb feyerick, thanks so much for being part of this coverage.
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cnn will continue the coverage of this tragedy in newtown, connecticut. we'll take a short break first, and we're back with this coverage right after the break. stay with us. ñ?
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we're very lucky that all the children, my son included, had the presence of mind to react appropriately, and they basically ran right next to the guy, out the door. >> they ran past the gunman. >> they ran -- he's still standing in the door. and they ran past him. >> here in newtown, connecticut, you're about to hear amazing, amazing stories of survival. heart breaking stories of sacrifice. and answers that only lead to more questions. i'm wolf blitzer.


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